Further Education Classes
How to Use Online Learning Sites
Buying Guide and Advice
Using Online Learning Websites
Online learning can be a fantastic way to acquire new skills on your time and at your leisure.
Some of the best aspects of online learning is the ability to go back and re-watch areas you have forgotten about or the ability to bookmark especially useful parts of the class, which you can’t do in real life classroom scenarios.
Depending on your preferences and what you are wanting to learn, there are TONS of options out there these days for professional classes that will teach you just about any hobby, trade or skill.
You can actually learn this way and it is actually a lot of fun to do. Even if you have never been a fan of traditional schooling, learning at your own pace and on your own time schedule is convenient and relaxed.
A favorite aspect of online learning is that you can skip past things you just don’t care about since you are in control.
Online learning is centered around making the most of your own personal growth the way you want to.
How to Make the Most of your Online Classes
• Decide if you want a membership vs. an individual class only. Both have their pros and cons. Memberships are usually monthly or yearly and are great because they typically give you access to all the classes on the site, however once you cancel your membership you will no longer have any access to those classes. Individually purchased classes typically have the benefit of being available forever (or for however long the company is in business). Our advice is to gauge which one is right for you by understanding how many of the classes you might be interested in (from that site), how LONG you plan on using these for, and which pricing model will be best. Obviously, it is typically cheaper just to purchase a class for the one-time fee if you will only be using that one class. I have done both styles but prefer to pay for classes on an as-needed basis, as sometimes it will take me a few months to even start a class.
• Determine if there are any prerequisites necessary. This includes any knowledge you should already have going into the class as well as any materials or product requirements you need to have. Most websites are very thorough about describing what you will need skills-wise and material-wise. If the class is for programming on a MAC, the requirements will list needing to have a MAC in order to participate. Some classes will actually mail you items to go along with what you will be learning.
• Take a class that matches your current skill level. If you have no experience with the subject and sign up for an advanced class you will inevitably be lost and probably find the class to be a waste of money.
• Read reviews to get a feel for what is good or bad about the teacher. Just like a real classroom situation, how much you learn relies on your ability to connect with their specific teaching style. I personally prefer teachers who are quick to get to the point without a lot of backstory but some people may learn better with the exact opposite. Usually there is a small bio with a video or a snippet from the class which you should watch prior to purchasing the class to make sure the teacher won’t irritate the heck out of you.
• If you love a class and the option is available, buy the DVD version or get a downloadable version to keep. If the class’s website is down, if your internet goes out, or if the company goes out of business you will no longer have access to your class, so it’s great to have a physical version you can keep as well.
Tips for Taking Online Classes
✔️ There are plenty of sites which offer free classes that can be great as well. We found you do get what you pay for when it comes to quality content though, for the most part. There are free mini-classes on sites like Craftsy (now Bluprint) that will get you started with understanding the format, we recommend taking a few of these first before investing in the pay classes just to know what to expect.
✔️ One of the disadvantages to online versus in-person classes is the missing element of being able to share your work and discuss with others. Most online classrooms have a forum where you can actively engage with your class community. Take advantage of this to share your work or ask questions, so that you don’t feel like you are completely isolated. Also, reach out to the teacher with questions or if you’re stuck or want some feedback. That’s what they are there for and they won’t mind.
There are many great extra-curricular online schools that can make learning at home fun and easy. We have identified our favorites at the top.